Wedding Photography

How to Improve Your Lightroom Workflow?

We don’t proclaim to be professional wedding photographer. However, we have personally photographed many weddings and wedding receptions, and we can promise you that those events produce a high volume of images to sort through. Thankfully, Lightroom makes managing all those files much more accessible.

This post will cover some essential but straightforward methods you can utilize in Lightroom to help you better manage all of your wedding images and speed up your workflow in Lightroom. If you’re ready to use a more productive workflow in Lightroom, you need to think like the assembly line. Looking for a Wedding Photo Company? Look no further. Boutique events group has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo companies to help you choose. 

Ways to Use a More Productive Workflow in Lightroom

  • After importing your files into Lightroom, the first thing you should do is cull through your photos. Culling is the act of looking through the images quickly and choosing the ones you want to edit. While culling, don’t start editing any photos. Even if you saw one you like but was exposed improperly, you are unsure if you want to keep it; keep it for now and try to fix it later during the following process. If you find out later it’s unrepairable; then you toss it out. But, don’t, I repeat, don’t stop bringing a photo into the develop module and start editing it. While culling, you can use numbers to rate images, colour labels, or “P” to flag the photos you like, then filter for those later. There are lots of ways to do it. The key is only to cull the images as our first workflow step.
  • Once you’ve culled the photos, you need to filter for those images you picked, and you can now start the editing process. Switch over to the Develop module and begin editing the photos. Most of your edits will happen in the module’s Basic menu (white balance, exposure, contrast, vibrance, clarity, etc.). During this process, you can also apply any Lightroom presets. Be sure to take advantage of Sync and Previous buttons. Many photographers get held up here because when they come across an image that needs some extra editing, they right-click on the image and choose to open it in Photoshop. Don’t do this. It will slow you down. We will do that part later.
  • Once you’ve finished editing all your images, use the Metadata filter in the Library module to sort your pictures by ISO. Choose the high ISO images. Fix the noise in one Photo and then sync just the noise reduction of that one image to all your other photos shot at the same ISO. Do this for each level of high ISO images you would like to fix.
  • You’ve finished editing all the images; your next step is to select them all and rename them before moving onto the export process. The easiest way to do this is going to the Library module, selecting all, then on the PC, just hit F2, or on the Mac, hit Cmd+F2 to bring up the Rename dialogue box.
  • Your photos are now culled, edited, and renamed in Lightroom, so now it’s time to export them. Go to your export dialogue box and export all the images into one subfolder inside the client’s main folder.
  • Once you have all the JPEGs exported into one folder, open up Photoshop. Now is the time you can drag the JPEGs that need additional editing into Photoshop, make the edits and resave the Photo. Edits in Photoshop might be advanced cloning, healing, and skin retouching. I also like to do some colour toning in Photoshop using an action I haven’t replicated yet in Lightroom. The key here is to use Photoshop on JPEG files that have already been exported out of Lightroom. No going back and forth between the programs like before. Remember, think like an assembly line. Only focus on one particular job at a time.

Quick Tip: 

Make sure your caps lock key is activated so that while culling, your photos auto-advance from one image to the next after you pick, rate or label your pictures.

Your “assembly line” might look different. The key, though, is to keep yourself from bouncing between one thing and another. If you are culling and decide to open one image in Develop, then go back to culling, you are doing it slower than you could be. If you are opening images from Lightroom into Photoshop, then saving the edits before jumping back into Lightroom, you are also doing it slower than you could be.

Just as the assembly line made Ford workers much more productive, you will become a much more productive editor in your workflow. Develop your steps, write it down and paste it above your computer or on your desk. Don’t break the flow. Form workflow habits. In a short time, you will find your workflow process will be much faster than before.

If you are ready to take your Lightroom skills to the next level, be sure to check out the Lightroom Image Processing Mastery tutorials here on SLR Lounge. They are accommodating, comprehensive and taught very well. Did I mention it’s over 10 hours of instruction? I learned a lot just by having them play in the background as I was doing my editing, and every so often, I would replay a section of the instruction because it was so beneficial. Time is money, and these videos have saved me a lot of time.

Managing Wedding Photos in Lightroom

Wedding Photography

Importing Wedding Photos Into Lightroom

The first step is to get the wedding images copied from your memory cards to your hard drive, whether internal or external. Open Lightroom and click on the ‘Import” button. However, there are some other things you need to do, so don’t rush through the process.

Create Smart Previews During Import

If you are importing your wedding images to an external drive, be sure to build “smart previews” so that you can work on the pictures even when your dream is not connected. It will add extra time to the import, but it will be worth it later promise. 

Create a Collection for the Wedding Photos During Import

The second step, and a VERY IMPORTANT one, is to create a Lightroom collection for all of the files right at the beginning. Name it something like “Shealy – Knight Wedding All Pics.” This will be the collection where you “dump” all the images from each memory card you used. Once the import is finished, you will want to create a “collection set”, which I will explain later in this post. 

Once you have the collection created, you will choose it again each time you import photos from the wedding.

Add Keywords During Import

This may seem like a trivial step, but creating keywords in Lightroom will allow you to isolate images from this import at a later date – whether it’s days, weeks, months later. Add keywords that apply to the entire group, like “Shealy Knight Wedding.” You don’t need to add a bunch; more can be added later inside the Library module.

Choose Destination

When you decide where on your internal hard drive or your external hard drive, you will copy the pictures. Remember, you are COPYING the images from the memory cards onto a hard drive. Lightroom needs YOU to choose the industry and choose the folder (or create a new one). Since weddings produce a vast quantity of files, try to get it right during import because moving them later may take more time than you realize.

Culling Wedding Images in Lightroom

My weddings generate more than a thousand photos, and I do not want to edit EVERY image, so I quickly go through and “cull” out the bad ones, then sort them into manageable groups (collections).

Isolate the Bad Wedding Photos Using Pick or Reject

Everyone has their favourite method for sorting out the wrong images, but the technique I use is through “flags”. Pictures that I want to keep receive a white flag – “pick.” Bad prints or duplicates receive a black flag – “reject.” To give them those flags, simply do one of the following:

  • Click the ‘p’ key for a white flag “pick”.
  • Click the ‘x’ key for a black flag “reject”.

To move quickly, make sure to turn on “Auto Advance”. Once the auto-advance is turned on, Lightroom will immediately move to the next image after an action has been done to an image (i.e. rating, flag, star, etc.). You can find Auto Advance in the main menu under Photo> Auto Advance.

Once you have gone through all the images (this can take a while), select all the rejects by going to Edit> Select by Flag > Rejected. This will highlight all the ideas that have black flags. Click delete, and choose whether to delete them from your hard drive or just from the Lightroom catalogue. If you decide to remove them from just the Lightroom catalogue, the images will be removed from Lightroom but will remain on your hard drive. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Boutique events group has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo companies to help you choose.

Create a Lightroom Collection Set and Collections for Your Wedding Images

Hopefully, you created a collection for all the images taken at the wedding during import from all cameras. Now is the time to make a Lightroom “collection set” to hold that collection and the other groups you create (again, basing this off of the system that works for me).

Lightroom Collections are virtual groupings of images that you create. The collection exists ONLY in Lightroom, not on the hard drive. One idea can be included in multiple collections.

To create a Collection Set, click the plus (+) sign at the Collections panel’s top. When the dialogue box opens, give the collection a name and decide if it will be housed inside another set.

To isolate all the images, click on the keyword tag you added to the photos (click the black triangle on the keyword’s far side to pull up the photos). 

  • Highlight all of them by pressing ‘control’ and ‘a,’ or ‘command’ and ‘a’ on a Mac
  • Click the plus (+) sign in the Collections panel and create a collection. 
  • Choose “Include Selected Photos”

Now for the fun part. Start separating the images by groupings that make sense to you. For instance:

  • Getting ready – the bride, groom, and bridal party getting ready
  • Ceremony – the ceremony from beginning to end
  • Family formals – family groupings with the bride and groom
  • Reception – The reception and other festivities
  • Odds and ends – the little wedding details like the rings, flowers, table centrepieces, etc.
  • Lightroom wedding

Each of the collections did not need to have the bride’s last name, and I just chose to do it that way if the group gets accidentally moved (weird things happen in Lightroom sometimes).

Separate Wedding Images by Rating

Once you have culled out the inappropriate images and created collections for the various settings or wedding events, the last thing you could do in the Library module is to add star ratings to the pictures. 

To add a star rating to a picture, or a group of photos, click the applicable number key on your keyboard. For example, to rate an image, five stars click the “5” key. To remove the rating (if you did it by accident), click the “0” key.

After having gone through and identified the images you want to edit, use for a preview gallery, or an album, isolate the photos the same way the rejects are sorted. To do this, follow this path: Edit > Select by Rating > 5 stars.

Here’s the neat thing about this – you can create and use a system that works best for you. You can use a rating system of 1 to 5, giving not-so-great pictures the 1, and the best images get the 5. Then isolate just the fives and work with them. If you need more photos for the gallery or album, or whatever, pick some images from the fours. Or, give only album-worthy pics five stars, but disk worth pics three stars. When you export to the disk, you sort by three stars and up so that both threes and fives are selected.

Editing Manually Lightroom Tips

Wedding Photography

  • It doesn’t take much. What we mean by this is, don’t “overdo” it!! Consider an image “over-edited” if you can’t see the details of the darkest parts of the image or the brightest parts of the picture. For example, look at this image below. The image on the right is over-edited. The highlights are so bright that you can’t see detail anymore, and the shadows are so heavy that you can’t see details in her hair. Her hair becomes a dark clump of pixels, and that’s not good! You should be able to see the point of the strands of hair! The image on the left is a more accurate edit.
  • Pay attention to how every slider in Lightroom affects an image. It takes time and practice to master this, but this is the type of knowledge that will save you so much time in post-processing. 
  • Learn to understand what you’re trying to accomplish in each image. 
  • Last but not least, here is one final tip! If your idea has a yellow “tinge” to it, scroll down the “Camera Calibration” and adjust the green primary just a bit! This is an excellent example of why knowing what EVERY slider does is helpful! By sliding the “green” slider under “Camera Calibration” to the right, you will be removing the intensity of the “Yellows” in your image. Don’t slide it too far because you will lose ALL of your yellow. This is a slider that helps a lot of photographers accomplish more of a “film” look. 

Lightroom Shortcuts

Shortcuts every Lightroom user needs to adopt to spend a minimal amount of time working on images. Here are the top Lightroom shortcuts that will speed up your wedding photography Lightroom workflow.

Utilize Keystrokes

When you shoot a wedding, you have hundreds of images to work on. After outsourcing colour correction to digital photo editing services, it is time to add your unique photography style to each of your images. It can become time-consuming to use the mouse to click through each of the buttons necessary to navigate through Lightroom’s variety of modules. By minimizing mouse clicks and utilizing Lightroom keyboard shortcuts, you will have quicker access to manage your photos and navigate through and work in the various modules.

For example, if you want to toggle between viewing images in different modules, click the D key to see photos in the Develop module and then G to visit the Library Grid view’s photos. Take a look at this comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts you can learn to minimize your Lightroom time.

Understand Auto-Sync

Using auto-sync with your images can increase the speed of your workflow. With auto-sync, you can choose several pictures at once and apply specific corrections to that batch of photos. Using the keyboard shortcut Command + Option + S, the penalties will be applied to all of your highlighted images.

This is an excellent Lightroom shortcut to use on a large section of images taken with the same lighting conditions and camera settings, such as family formals. If you sync all of your pictures and decide to change an individual image, you can quickly go into the Develop module and alter the sliders for that specific shot.

Master Develop Module Shortcuts

As you add your unique style to images in the Develop module, continue to use keystrokes as much as possible! To toggle between some of the basic adjustments, such as exposure and contrast, use the comma and period key to move up and down through these adjustments.

As you have one of the adjustments selected, rather than using the mouse to move the slider left and right to change how much Edit is applied, utilize the plus and minus keys to alter the slider. To move the slider in larger increments, hold the shift key along with the plus and minus keys. All of your adjustments can be made without touching the mouse.

Use the Painter Tool

After you have organized your images, use the painter tool (the icon that resembles a spray can) to add keywords to your photos. This option works best in the Library Grid View and helps you keyword images as quickly as possible. Click on the first image you want to keyword and then keep the mouse pressed over each additional image you want that keyword to be applied to.

The painter tool is also great to use for adding your style to a batch of images. If you want specific photos to be black and white, highlight them, click on the painter tool, and select your black and white style.

Customize Your Shortcuts

If there is an action that you are constantly doing in Lightroom, but there is no keystroke listed for it, you can create one. By going to your Keyboard within System Preferences, you can create shortcuts for any program. Along with this, you can change any default keystroke to be something else that is easier for you to remember.

You will automatically create habits to use Lightroom shortcuts when you repeatedly perform these actions. The time you spend in Lightroom will help you create a faster workflow for your business.


This post should give you a rough plan to follow – a place to start. Once you get going, try out the flags, ratings, collections/sets to determine the Lightroom organization system that works best for your wedding photos and Lightroom workflow. At Boutique events group we have compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

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